Sunday, December 17

Jim Corbett,the Tiger And India

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The British were the imperial rulers of India for nearly 200 years. This period is popularly referred to as the Raj and has a permanent place in Indian History. Though India was a colony, yet the British rulers ushered in an era of progress and  enlightenment.Of course this development was not without purpose as it strengthened the rule of the English over India. But after the English left the good work done by them remained.

The period of the Raj was also the period of the big game hunters like Jim Corbett. Corbett was born in Haldwani in India in 1875. He grew up under the aegis of the Raj where his father was a postmaster at Nainital. But it must be said about him that from his young age the wild life and in particular the big cats fascinated him.

Corbett took to hunting man eating tigers which were rampant in India at that time. He is credited with killing 33 big cats including 19 tigers. He risked his life umpteen times to save the simple Indian villagers from the marauding man eating tigers. Only once Jim shot the wrong beast and he felt tremendous remorse after that killing.

Jim Corbett killed his first tiger the notorious beast of Champawat, which had killed 436 human beings in the early part of his life.  He followed up by shooting another 18 more. He was active as a hunter till 1937.But after that he had a change of heart and devoted his energy to saving the tiger. He will be remembered for this phase of his life.as well. He did monumental work in bringing about awareness about the plight of the dwindling tigers and lectured all over India and abroad to save the big cats. His efforts soon bore fruit in the shape of the Corbett national park on the foothills to Nainital. The Park was renamed after him in 1957.

Corbett retired to Kenya and settled at  Nyeri where  he died in 1955.The period of retirement saw him write a number of books based on his vast tiger hunting experiences. These books are immensely popular  and  ‘The man eating leopard of Rudraprayag’ and  ‘Man eaters of Kumaon’ are best sellers.. Jim, in all wrote six books during his retirement days.

Jim Corbett was the archetypal British Indian. He was born in India and lived his entire life there. He loved India and visited England only once. But he did a lot for Indians by saving the villagers from the scourge of man eaters. His concern for the big cats also deserves mention. Jim was greatly concerned with the dwindling number of tigers and wished to educate the people on saving the tiger.Corbett will be remembered for all time to come as the ‘burra sahib’ who saved the villagers and later helped in efforts to save the tiger.

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